Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category
So after ripping the living (or I guess, undead, in some cases) crap out of the actors in Twilight, I felt like I needed to write about a good trailer. Sunshine Cleaning is a great one—it describes what the movie is about, it’s got a great song, and it manages to show Emily Blunt vomiting without making her the least bit unattractive. Then again, I’m fairly sure that Emily Blunt would look attractive covered in a pile of moldy marshmallow fluff (if marshmallow fluff weren’t 100% plastic and could actually mold).
And speaking of attractive actresses (attract-resses?), this movie’s even got Amy Adams, who has been on my “Women I’d totally go out with if I liked women that way” list for years. Not only is she gorgeous, but she’s extremely talented; what’s great about Sunshine Cleaning is that it gives us a chance to see her in a serious role, giving her a break from the peppy, super-naïve roles she previously played in Enchanted and Drop Dead Gorgeous.
Most importantly, this movie has Alan Arkin in it, and anything with Alan Arkin in it is fantastic. He doesn’t even try to be funny. He just is.
And how cute is that little kid? Where did he come from? I want one!
I also have to give Sunshine Cleaning kudos for a creative and original plot—there aren’t too many out there these days. I can’t stand how many crappy book-based movies have been made. I couldn’t even sit through Ella Enchanted—a butchered version of my favorite children’s book. And don’t even get me started on The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
Sunshine Cleaning is wrought with some witty dark humor and some great twists that leave you alarmed and delighted. The dialogue is surprising and well-written, the soundtrack is great, and the acting is fantastic. This movie is so great that I’m even willing to forgive the makers for creating two movies with the word “sunshine” in the title (the other being Little Miss Sunshine). I can even almost forgive them for including the token “female protagonist talks to herself in a mirror because she needs to boost her self-confidence” scene. Almost.
Seriously though, go watch this. I mean, well, see it, but be prepared to cry a lot (but then again, I cried in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls because there was a raccoon stuck on a log).
In case you hadn’t heard, Watchmen comes out on Friday. Given the level of anticipation this film has produced in die hard fans of the graphic novel and the general public alike, it’s quite possible that Billy Crudup will go from being that rock star guy who called himself a golden god and jumped off a roof into a swimming pool (Russell Hammond in Almost Famous) to that scientist who accidentally disintegrated himself and came back as that blue guy who can control matter and energy at will (Dr. Manhattan in the aforementioned Watchmen). I’d call that a slight upgrade. But, before Friday rolls around and Crudup becomes known as the most powerful Smurf ever, I thought I’d take a moment and offer up the trailer for Crudup’s last, less than widely released film, Dedication.
In Dedication, Crudup plays an obsessive compulsive man who hates people but writes children’s books. When Tom Wilkinson, Crudup’s only friend and the illustrator of his hit “Marty the Beaver” series, dies, Crudup is forced to share a beach house with Wilkinson’s replacement, Mandy Moore, in order to finish up the latest Marty installment. Take a wild guess what happens next.
Highlights of the Dedication trailer include: 1) Crudup rattling off all his OCD symptoms the first time he meets Moore. 2) Crudup telling a little girl girl at a book signing that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. 3) Wilkinson describing Moore as being “lovely like an antelope in a junkyard.” 4) Crudup wearing a yellow football helmet to overcome his fear of riding in a car. And, 5) Crudup pretending to be upset when Moore falls asleep next to him on the couch. My favorite part of the trailer is when Crudup vaporizes Mandy Moore and uses her atomic material to annihilate a squadron of attack helicopters and over forty tanks (not really). Dedication opened August 24, 2007. Check of the Dedication trailer at Zuguide.com.
If The Wrestler lives up to the lofty expectations of its overwhelming critical acclaim, we’ll all need to take a moment to thank Nicolas Cage for passing on the lead role and allowing director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) to tap Mickey Rourke as the washed-up, broken-down grappler Randy “The Ram” Robinson. It’s no overstatement to insist that the film’s believability hinges on this crucial casting choice, and when the alternative was a creepy, awkward over-actor with bad hair that is the stuff of legend, Mickey Rourke, and his perfect combination of Macho Man Randy Savage hair, Hulk Hogan physique, and Mickey Rourke face, seems like the only way to go.
The Wrestler trailer shows off the film’s documentary-like style and provides a few tender moments where Rourke reveals that, although his personal life and health have been torn apart by his career as a sports entertainer, he loves performing for his fans. Highlights of The Wrestler trailer include: 1) Rourke preparing for a match. 2) Rourke’s boss putting him down after he asks for more hours by saying, “All I got is weekends. Isn’t that when you sit on other dudes’ faces?” 3) Rourke convincing Marisa Tomei to have a beer with him. 4) Rourke trying to make amends with Evan Rachel Wood, his estranged daughter. And, 5) Rourke putting forth the theory that Kurt Cobain ruined music and contributed to the suckiness of the 90s. My favorite part of the trailer comes when Rourke is shown shaving his armpits while wearing a shower cap. The Wrestler opened December 17, 2008. Check out The Wrestler trailer at Zuguide.com.
After portraying a kind-hearted, time-traveling dimwit whose rock music leads to the creation of a Utopian society (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey) and a messianic computer hacker who frees the human race from unconscious slavery using kung fu (The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions), Keanu Reeves decided to stretch his bones and accept a role that would allow him to approach saving the world from a slightly different angle: threatening to eradicate the human race. In the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Reeves plays Klaatu, an alien messenger sent to Earth to assess humankind’s ability to peaceably coexist and reverse the environmental damage they’ve inflicted on the planet. Rather than saving humanity with power chords or martial arts techniques, Reeves must decide whether the earthlings deserve to live, or if their existence poses too great a threat to their planet’s rare ability to sustain complex life.
Not surprisingly, Reeves’ alien impression basically consists of his patented vacant stare combined with his naturally emotionless speaking voice. For someone who grew up listening to Robert Stack narrate thousands of alien abductions on Unsolved Mysteries, this doesn’t exactly strike fear in my heart. Compared to the countless nights I spent dreading the thought of waking up in a distant galaxy strapped to an ice-cold metal table in a room filled with light, doomed to spend the final terrifying hours of my life in intense anguish, listening to Reeves calmly forewarn his human captors that their time is running out has little effect. I mean, the mere fact that he’s willing to sit down and talk means that there’s still a chance for salvation, and, even if things don’t work out, I’m pretty sure there won’t be any probing involved.
Highlights of The Day the Earth Stood Still trailer include: 1) Jennifer Connelly hiding a cell phone in her cleavage. 2) Don Draper (Jon Hamm) pretending to be a NASA scientist. 3) Reeves dryly answering a couple questions while hooked up to a polygraph before telling the man administering the test that he should let him go. And, 4) Reeves telling Connelly and Jaden Smith (the future Next Karate Kid), “If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives.” My favorite part of the trailer comes near the end when Gort, Reeves’ menacing robot enforcer, is shown for a brief moment with a beam of light coming out of his cyclops-like eye. The Day the Earth Stood Still opens December 12, 2008. Check out The Day the Earth Stood Still trailer at Zuguide.com.
Harvey Milk was an influential gay rights leader and the first openly gay elected government official in the US. Though his work for the gay community stands on its own merit, Milk’s murder at the hands of a fellow San Francisco Supervisor makes his story as tragic as it is noteworthy. Fresh on the heels of the passing of California’s Proposition 8, a controversial ballot measure that restricts the definition of marriage in the state to the union of a man and a woman, director Gus Van Sant has cast Sean Penn to portray Milk in a promising biopic that will likely place Penn among the early front runners for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Penn, who has a history of selecting strong, charismatic roles, is no stranger to Oscar nominations, having earned the honor for his work in Dead Man Walking, Sweet and Lowdown, I am Sam, and Mystic River (for which he won the award). The seriousness of Milk’s subject matter should shield Penn from the criticism he faced after I am Sam (a melodramatic Forrest Gump 2, without all the lofty accomplishments and catch phrases) was released, but you have to think that Penn knew that the film would garner the Academy’s consideration when he took the role. I wish him luck, as long as he keeps the Beatles references to a minimum.
Highlights of the Milk trailer include: 1) Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Speed Racer) telling Penn that he doesn’t “do losing” when Penn suggests they start a revolution in San Francisco. 2) All the men in Penn’s office showing their surprise when he introduces a woman (Alison Pill) as his campaign manager. 3) Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, W., American Gangster) condescendingly asking Penn if two men can reproduce and Penn responding, “No, but God knows we keep trying.” And, 4) Penn giving an emphatic speech in front of a large crowd right after receiving a death threat. My favorite part of the Milk trailer is watching James Franco attempt to morph Saul Silver (Pineapple Express) into a gay man living in the 1970s. Milk opens December 5, 2008. Check out the Milk trailer at Zuguide.com.
Clint Eastwood has said that his turn in Gran Torino will be he last as an actor so that he can devote all his time to directing. Knowing that the film would be his last in front of the camera, Eastwood apparently decided to unleash a heightened form of facial acting that is the exact polar opposite of Ben Stiller’s portrayal of Derek Zoolander. In the Gran Torino trailer, Eastwood makes a variety of faces that come within seconds of tearing through the fabric of space time, instantaneously creating a black hole, and ending the universe. There simply has never been a man capable of making a face that shows so much displeasure. It’s really amazing.
In Gran Torino, Eastwood plays an intense, curmudgeonly widower who can’t get along with what’s left of his family and despises the wave of immigrants that has begun to settle in his neighborhood. Eastwood basically hates everyone and everything until he catches his young Hmong neighbor trying to steal his car for a gang initiation. After reluctantly taking the boy under his wing, Eastwood eventually comes out of his shell of hate, connecting with the rest of the boy’s family and protecting them from the gang. I imagine that the some of the most difficult scenes for Eastwood come near the end of the film, where he has to coax some type of smile from his weathered face after spending most of the movie pushing the limits of a soon-to-be legendary hyper-contorted grimace.
Highlights of the Gran Torino trailer include: 1) Eastwood confronting some troublemakers on the street with a voice that sounds like he snacks on gravel. 2) Eastwood looking like he’s going to implode just before kicking his children out of his house for suggesting he move into a retirement home. 3) Eastwood’s elderly, female Hmong neighbor spitting a quart of tobacco juice on the ground in response to Eastwood complaining about all the foreigners moving into the neighborhood. And, 4) Eastwood pulling a rifle on a bunch of gang members and telling them to get off his lawn. My favorite part of the trailer comes near the end when Eastwood beats up a gang member with his bare fists, even though he’s at least 70 years his elder. Gran Torino opens January 16, 2009. Check out the Gran Torino trailer at Zuguide.com.
With Variety confirming that Jaden Smith, Will Smith’s youngest son, will be reviving the Karate Kid franchise, Ralph Macchio must be thanking the ghost of Pat Morita for his good fortune. If Daniel-san plays his cards right, he should be able to line up a few talk show appearances, sign on for a couple more episodes of Ugly Betty, and maybe even make a cameo in the film itself. At the very least, I imagine he’d be happy just to get some easy publicity for his chain of laundromats (things have been pretty quiet for old Ralph since My Cousin Vinny).
But, as the real-life Daniel Larusso celebrates, fans of the original film weep at the thought of another vain attempt to turn a profit by desecrating the Karate Kid legacy. While Karate Kid Part II and Part III fell short of the perfection attained by the first movie, the affront to fans really began when Hilary Swank gave birth to the abomination known as The Next Karate Kid. Now, after 14 years of extensive psychotherapy and steadfast denial, fans will once again be forced to deal with the reality of a world where Ralph Macchio is no longer the only Karate Kid.
So, with time running out, I’ve decided to bust out my plot for the ultimate Karate Kid reboot with the hope that the idea will inspire the legions of Karate Kid fans around world to demand that Hollywood ditch Jaden Smith and finally produce a decent 80s movie remake, while simultaneously ushering in a new era in cinema. Here’s the deal: The basic story stays about the same except the entire chain of events is seen from another point of view; the point of view of Johnny Lawrence and the Cobra Kai. When the movie begins, life is great. The Cobra Kai are the kings of SoCal and Johnny and Ali are in love. Then, Daniel, an annoying jerk from New Jersey, moves into town and makes everyone’s life miserable. Not only is Daniel incredibly irritating and obnoxious, but he also decides to make a move on Ali and picks up karate as a joke. To defend his girl and show Daniel that karate should be practiced with honor, Johnny and the Cobra Kai make an example of him at the All Valley Karate Championship. Basically, I want to preserve the memory of the original Karate Kid by creating its opposite.
Until Revenge of the Cobra Kai becomes a reality, you’ll just have to make due with the The Karate Kid trailer. Highlights include: 1) Macchio seeing his new apartment complex’s stagnant pool for the first time. 2) Zabka slapping Macchio around on the beach while wearing a Michael Jackson jacket and a headband. 3) Morita karate chopping the tops off of four beer bottles. And, 4) Macchio finishing off Zapka with his world-famous crane kick. My favorite part of the trailer comes at the end when Macchio asks Morita what kind of belt he has and Morita replies, “J.C. Penney. 3.98.” The Karate Kid opened June 22, 1984. Check out The Karate Kid trailer at Zuguide.com.
With the 2008 U.S. presidential election less than 24 hours away, I’d like to take a moment and remind everyone that Barack Obama and John McCain aren’t going to elect themselves. Oh, they’ll try, but the whole thing would end in a tie without a little help from us, the informed citizens of America. So, on Tuesday November 4th, go fulfill your patriotic duty by standing in line for three hours and being ordered around by a bunch of gray-hairs addicted to the adrenaline rush of overseeing an orderly, fraud-free voting process. Or, if you’re like me, go vote early at your local supermarket and stock up on tortilla chips and Monterey Jack cheese while you’re at it.
In keeping with the presidential theme, I’ve chosen Frost/Nixon as the the trailer of the day. Directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code), the film details a series of interviews held in 1977 between British talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen) and former president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). After three years of silence following the Watergate scandal, Nixon, the only president to ever resign from office, unexpectedly agrees to sit down with Frost in an attempt to clear his name and bank a healthy appearance fee. Initially, Frost is intimidated and overwhelmed by Nixon’s domineering, self-satisfied personality, but, when the gravity of the situation finally takes hold, Frost rises to the occasion and succeeds in obtaining a tacit admission of guilt.
Highlights of the Frost/Nixon trailer include: 1) Kevin Bacon watching Langella resign the presidency. 2) Toby Jones convincing Langella to do the interviews with an offer of a half million dollars. 3) Sam Rockwell talking smack before meeting Langella, then freezing in his presence. 4) Bacon threatening to ruin Sheen’s career. And, 5) Langella explaining to Sheen that the president is above the law. My favorite part of the Frost/Nixon trailer comes just before the start of the first interview when Langella asks Sheen if he did any “fornicating” the night before. Frost/Nixon opens December 6, 2008. Check out the Frost/Nixon trailer at Zuguide.com.
In case you hadn’t heard, Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Signs, Walk the Line, We Own the Night) has decided to retire from acting and focus his talents on music. Apparently, after finishing filming on his latest picture, Two Lovers, a romantic drama with Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, and Isabella Rossellini, Commodus decided that he’s grown weary of pretending to be other people and would rather pretend to be a rock star. No word yet on upcoming tour dates, but Two Lovers is set to be released February 13, 2009, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
As a way of bidding a premature farewell to the most famous actor to ever rock an upper lip birthmark scar, I thought I’d offer up the trailer for Reservation Road, Phoenix’s second to last film. In Reservation Road, Phoenix plays a father whose son in struck and killed by Mark Ruffalo in a hit and run accident. Rushing to get his own son home to ex-wife Mira Sorvino, Ruffalo changes the lives of Phoenix, his wife, Jennifer Connelly, and his daughter, Elle Fanning, forever. But, while Connelly eventually tries to move on from the tragedy, Phoenix becomes obsessed with tracking down his son’s killer. And, in one of the most uncomfortable situations of all-time (not to mention the most obvious case of conflict of interest in human history), Phoenix ends up hiring Ruffalo as his lawyer to make sure the police are actively pursuing the case.
Highlights of the Reservation Road trailer include: 1) Ruffalo debating whether or not to turn himself in to the police, then deciding to cover up his crime. 2) Ruffalo walking into his office and seeing Phoenix sitting on the couch. 3) Phoenix asking Ruffalo what he would want to have happen if someone killed his son. And, 4) Phoenix getting a gun and deciding to take matters into his own hands. My favorite part of the Reservation Road trailer is the beginning, which shows Phoenix and Ruffalo spending quality time with their respective families before everything goes to hell. Reservation Road opened October 19, 2007. Check out the Reservation Road trailer at Zuguide.com.
In the trailer for W., director Oliver Stone’s third film inspired by a US president (the others being Nixon and JFK) and first inspired by Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the story of George W. Bush’s rise to power and the missteps that led to him becoming the least popular president in modern American history are portrayed with all the subtlety you’d expect from the man behind Natural Born Killers. There’s hard drinking, fights with dad, and more than a few hints indicating a severe inferiority complex. Since the film is a satire, imagining Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, American Gangster), a non-comedian, playing Bush might initially seem like a stretch, but watching him deliver his first line in the trailer (“In history, we’ll all be dead.”) immediately validates the casting decision. If nothing else, the film seems to have a solid set of well-known actors, including Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush, James Cromwell as Big George Bush, Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush, Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, and Toby Jones as Karl Rove. The biggest surprise is seeing how much they made Thandie Newton look like Condoleezza Rice.
Highlights of the W. trailer include: 1) Brolin dancing on a bar with a classy young lady. 2) Brolin running into some trash cans while drunk driving. 3) Brolin chuckling when Dreyfuss describes the use of torture techniques, or “fear scenarios.” And, 4) Brolin sitting on the john talking to Banks about the difficulty of getting out of his father’s shadow. My favorite part of the trailer is when Brolin recreates the moment when W. got a brush burn on the side of his face after choking on a pretzel and passing out. W. opened October 17, 2008. Check out the W. trailer at Zuguide.com.